Thomas Frank

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Thomas Frank
Frank at the 2012 Texas Book Festival
Thomas Carr Frank

(1965-03-21) March 21, 1965 (age 58)
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Alma materUniversity of Virginia (B.A.) University of Chicago (M.A., Ph.D.)
Occupation(s)Political analyst, columnist, historian, journalist
Known forCo-founder of The Baffler, culture war author
Notable workWhat's the Matter with Kansas?
Political partyDemocratic

Thomas Carr Frank (born March 21, 1965) is an American political analyst, historian, and journalist. He co-founded and edited The Baffler magazine. Frank is the author of the books What's the Matter with Kansas? (2004) and Listen, Liberal (2016), among others. From 2008 to 2010 he wrote "The Tilting Yard", a column in The Wall Street Journal.

A historian of culture and ideas, Frank analyzes trends in American electoral politics and propaganda, advertising, popular culture, mainstream journalism, and economics. His topics include the rhetoric and impact of culture wars in American political life and the relationship between politics, economics, and culture in the United States.

Early life[edit]

Frank was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and grew up in Mission Hills, Kansas. He graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School, and in 1988 from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history after transferring from the University of Kansas in his freshman year. Frank received a Master of Arts degree in history in 1990 and a doctorate in history in 1994 from the University of Chicago. His doctoral thesis on advertising in the 1960s, The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism, was later published by the University of Chicago Press.[1]


Frank was a College Republican, attending campus meetings at the University of Kansas, but became highly critical of conservatism. He summarized the thesis of his 2008 book The Wrecking Crew (book) as "[b]ad government is the natural product of rule by those who believe government is bad."[2]

Frank's other writings include essays for Harper's Magazine, Le Monde diplomatique, Bookforum, and the Financial Times. His book What's the Matter with Kansas? (2004) earned him nationwide and international recognition.

From December 2010 to February 2014, Frank wrote the monthly "Easy Chair" column for Harper's Magazine.[3]

Frank identifies as a left-wing populist and supported Bernie Sanders's 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns.

It received little attention at the time, but in Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? (2016), Frank was one of the few analysts who foresaw that Donald Trump could win the 2016 United States presidential election.[4] In 2018, he called Trump "the worst politician ever", but maintained that Trump could be reelected in the 2020 presidential election. Frank further observes that "quasi-fascist movements" are springing up around the world.[5]

Frank's research into U.S. populism was published as the book The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism (2020). In it, he examines the origin of the term in the United States and discusses historical examples of populism and its adherents and detractors.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Frank lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife, Wendy Edelberg, and their children.



  • Frank, Thomas (1997). The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226259918.
  • One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy (2000) ISBN 0-385-49503-X
  • New Consensus for Old: Cultural Studies from Left to Right (2002) ISBN 0-9717575-4-2
  • Boob Jubilee: The Cultural Politics of the New Economy (2003) ISBN 0-393-32430-3
  • What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2004). Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-1-4299-0032-4
    • What's the Matter with America? The Resistible Rise of the American Right (2006) ISBN 0-09-949293-8
  • The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule (2008), Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 0-8050-7988-2
  • Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right (2011) ISBN 978-0-8050-9369-8
  • Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? (2016) ISBN 978-1-6277-9539-5[7]
  • Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society (2018) ISBN 978-1250293664[8]
  • The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism (2020) ISBN 9781250220110[9]


  • Frank, Thomas (November 2012). "All the rage". Easy Chair. Harper's. 325 (1950): 6, 8–9.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The University of Chicago Magazine: February 2004". Retrieved 2023-01-15.
  2. ^ "Bill Moyers interviews Thomas Frank". PBS. August 1, 2008. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  3. ^ "Frank leaves WSJ to become Harper's columnist". Poynter Online. August 2, 2010. Archived from the original (Press release) on August 19, 2010. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  4. ^ Taibbi, Matt (August 2, 2020). "Kansas Should Go F--- Itself". Substack. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  5. ^ Murphy, Katharine (30 July 2018). "Donald Trump, 'worst politician ever', on path to re-election, Thomas Frank says". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  6. ^ Taibbi, Matt; Halper, Katie (August 7, 2020). "'Useful Idiots' With Guest Thomas Frank on Anti-Populism" (Video). Useful Idiots. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  7. ^ "Listen, Liberal". Listen, Liberal book website. Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  8. ^ "Thomas Frank's 'Rendezvous with Oblivion' Calls for New History". Santa Barbara Independent. Aug 30, 2018. Retrieved 18 August 2020. To regain legitimacy with Roosevelt's great majority, Democrats have no choice but to dump the ideology of the nineties and end their decades-long love affair with high tech, big banks, and globalization.
  9. ^ "Book Review: 'The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism' by Thomas Frank". Retrieved 2020-07-13.

Further reading[edit]

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